THE BLACK BOX


By Michael Connelly

Little, Brown & Company, 2012 ($27.99)

ISBN-13: 978-0316069434

Reviewed by Rick McMahan

THE BLACK BOX is the latest Harry Bosch book by Michael Connelly. Like in other books (LOST LIGHT and ECHO PARK), in this book Harry goes back to a case he was unable to solve on his "first run" at the case.

During the insanity of the riots in Los Angeles, following the verdicts in the Rodney King trial, the city of angels was a cauldron boiling and roiling with anger, despair, violence and lawlessness. Law and order was in short supply during the mayhem. Harry and his partner, Jerry Edgar were assigned as roving homicide investigators, being dispatched from one death scene to another where they did little more than a cursory crime scene processing and documentation before being dispatched to another murder. All the while protected by squads of LAPD officers or National Guardsmen. Needless to say a great many of the murders committed during this time wound up in the open/unsolved file.

Harry's re-investigating one of those murders, the killing of Anneke Jespersen. In '92, Harry responded to a darkened alley in South Central LA to find a white woman executed in the darkness. The killing was odd — why would a Caucasian be in the heart of the race riot neighborhood? Even the woman's press pass only deepened the mystery, because Jespersen was a foreign journalist, not even thought to be covering the riots. The murder was never solved. Now twenty years later, as the anniversary of the riots are coming, Harry's looking into Jespersen's murder.

As always, Connelly has several "plates" spinning in the book, not only in regards to the murder but to his character's personal life, and THE BLACK BOX is no different. Bosch gets static from the bureaucracy as to why he's investigating the murder of a white woman from the riots on the anniversary, and how it would look in the public eyes with so many minority murders from the time to be solved. Anyone who knows Detective Harry Bosch knows that in Harry's eyes "everyone counts or no one counts." Also, Internal Affairs once again is poking around with Harry — and one has to wonder if this is a political play to get him to back off of the investigation. Personally, Harry's dealing with the ups and downs of raising a teenage daughter as well as finding his way in a new romantic entanglement that started with his last big case (THE DROP). Connelly combines the science and procedure of investigations in his plot devices and twists and turns in the story, but ultimately, the books are about the people with Harry Bosch at the center.

In every Harry Bosch novel, the story ultimately is Harry and his journey from the opening page to the last in each book. As important as the investigation is to the plot, as a reader we read the story to be with Harry, to learn more about him and his life. I look forward to every new Harry Bosch book with excitement and dread. Yes, I said dread. Michael Connelly's hero is by far my favorite series character going, so for over twenty years I have been reading every book as soon as they are released. Yet, now, as each new Harry Bosch book comes out, I have a dread. Each book signals a step closer to the end of a great series. When he started the series, Connelly made a conscious decision to age Harry in real time, so Bosch, a Vietnam Vet, has aged over two decades since we first met him in THE BLACK ECHO. Now in his sixties, Harry has retired, been called back to service (all within the real life LAPD guidelines) and even given an extension of his end of service. Yet, it won't be many more books longer until Connelly will have to retire Harry Bosch. That will be a sad day, but until that day every Harry Bosch fan will do like I do, pick up the newest book and read.

This book will be released in a paperback edition, April 16, 2013 at the suggested price of $14.99.

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